On 28th December 1943, John Russell Faulkner of 504 Squadron was killed aged 21. What caused his death and whether there is a connection with the death of fellow squadron member Philip Dawkins Bailey on the same date is not known. Whilst Flying Officer Bailey is buried in Dorking Cemetery, with 61 other identified casualties from the First and Second World Wars, Pilot Officer Faulkner was interred at Christ Church in Lichfield and is the only war grave in the cemetery.
John’s short obituary in the Lichfield Mercury on the last day of 1943 reads:
On Active Service
FAULKNER – On December 28th 1943, Flight Sergeant Pilot John Russell, RAFVR, most dearly loved only child of Mr and Mrs GA Faulkner, Lloyds Bank House, Handsworth and dear fiancee of Diane Combe-Robinson, aged 21. No letters please. Funeral at Christ Church, Lichfield, Saturday 3.30
Why was John buried at Christ Church given that his parents were in Handsworth? The connection soon became clear after finding an announcement in the Lichfield Mercury relating to John’s birth in April 1922 and giving his mother’s maiden name – Tuke. This led to the discovery of a further announcement relating to George Arthur Faulkner, eldest son of Mr and Mrs Faulkner of Beacon Street marrying Majorie Frances (Madge) Tuke, second daughter of the late Herbert H Tuke and Mrs Tuke of the Walsall Road in November 1917 at Christ Church.
On July 12th 1948, Madge Tuke died at her home in Handsworth and was buried alongside her boy at Christ Church.
When I think of John Russell Faulkner, and so many like him, I think of the opening lines from this anonymous poem:
Not – How did he die? But – How did he live?
Not – What did he gain? But – What did he give?